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Using your own name as company name, or a more commercial name?
Thread poster: Nele Van den Broeck

Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
French to Dutch
+ ...
Jun 5, 2015

Dear all,

I'm just starting out as a professional translator (I would like to really start next month in fact), and am still looking for a name for my business in order to be able to get some business cards.

I was just wondering what's the usual thing to do.
Have you used your own name as a company name, or did you go for a more commercial name without your name in it?

At the moment, I'm considering the latter, unless it would be very odd to do so...

I have several reason why I don't really want to use my own name:
The first and weakest reason: I think that's the "easy" option (although I do recognise it does give you a more trustworthy image).
Second reason: My last name, Van den Broeck, is one of the most common last names in Belgium (written in a couple of different spellings, but still, pronounced exactly the same way), and therefore doesn't provide me with a "special" name that would be remarkable. There are already a lot of Belgian companies with "Van den Broeck" as a part of their name, mostly in the construction sector it seems.
Third reason: Nele Van den Broeck is also, a Belgian actress/singer, who's getting more and more known, and it isn't me.
People who would be looking for me on the internet, would probably find her instead of me.

Because of these reasons, I would like to use a completely different commercial name, but I have not decided yet.
At the moment I'm thinking about ".... vertalingen" (.... translations, vertalingen is Dutch for translations, and since Dutch is my native language, it would be my target language). I would be translating Spanish, French and English texts into Dutch, and because I don't want to use a name in one of those languages (I don't want to give the impression that I prefer one out of those three), I am thinking about replacing the "...." by something in Latin (which I have been studying for 6 years as well), as one out of the oldest still known language which evolved in a lot of our current languages right now.

What do you think of my plan?
And what was your personal choice?

[Edited at 2015-06-06 16:42 GMT]


Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I use the name of my home town Jun 5, 2015

I don't know about other countries, but in Spain freelancers can only work, and pay tax, under their own names. The names they choose for their businesses have no legal value.

It took me about 30 seconds to find a name for my website and one that would make my invoices look a bit more professional. I used the name of the village where I was born and grew up and then added 'traducciones', which in Spanish means 'translations': Shorne Traducciones.

For my invoices I use 'Traducciones Shorne', which is how it should be written, but I use 'Shorne Traducciones' on my website because I was told that two 's' together wasn't a very good idea!


Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
English to Polish
+ ...
Depends on what you want to do Jun 5, 2015

If you want to outsource and effectively run a small agency, go with a nice made-up name and limited company.

If you want to be a hardcore freelancer, just be self-employed without even founding a sole-proprietorship. But this is impossible in Belgium, as far as I know (I may be wrong, but I think you need to have a sole-proprietorship even as a freelancer).

If you don't really care that much for the freelance thing, you can just start another generically named 'YourName Translations'. I don't like this choice because of the pluralization, which invokes a commoditized associations. (A law firm isn't called 'motions and appeals', and a medical practice isn't called 'visits, surgeries and other procedures.) It's a naming scheme well loved by freelancers in fact, but it needs to be rethought.

Mine is a bit idiosyncratic, it translates into English more or less as 'Translation Practice of Łukasz etc.'. The Polish word is more similar to 'Law Offices', except with 'Translation' substituted for 'Law'.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:17
Member (2007)
+ ...
Trading name, 'signature', slogan... Jun 5, 2015

Freelancers don't have a company name, but we can have unofficial trading names. I actually have two! My name here is an easier one for many people, but to the Spanish authorities I'm Shelagh. Then my business card also has a logo of NIE: Naturally In English. NIE has another significance in Spain - the number all foreigners memorise and quote every day to every public service employee.

Whether you have a trading name or not, I think your invoices, contracts, etc will have to bear your real name.


Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Broeck Vertalingen Jun 6, 2015

Nele Van den Broeck wrote:
I was just wondering what's the usual thing to do. Have you used your own name as a company name, or did you go for a more commercial name without your name in it?

You're likely to deal with clients in your own name, so your business name might as well reflect your real name.


EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
We already had this topic Jun 6, 2015

- look it up, In my country, it is simple - you are obliged to use your own name, although you may add to it. Some people do, and if they are just translators (no agency activity, as mentioned by somebody else), it looks funny. But this is in the light of our local habits. If, as you say, your name is very common, you should at least add a distinctive expression to it.


brg (X)
This has legal implications Jun 6, 2015

In some countries translators only have the right to use tbeir own name, and the extensions allowed are very limited in order to avoid confusion with company names.
In your case, Van den Broeck Vertalingen.

I suggest you strongly to ask the translators' association in your country.


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
My Name Jun 6, 2015

I have always used my own true name that is not so common, plus I wish to emphasize that I am a sole freelancer, not a company, and I have no associates. That way the client is assured that whatever work I sell him is actually done 100% by me, and that my capacity is limited because I am just one person.


Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
French to Dutch
+ ...
Couple of things I did not know yet Jun 6, 2015

First of all: I did not know that a topic like this already existed.
I already saw a couple of topics where they asked specific advise for their trading name, but I was not looking for specific ideas for my own name, but just looking for "what is the usual thing to do", and therefore trying to get an impression about what other translators here did.
I will try to look for this similar topic though.

I have to get subscribed at the Belgian Crossroads Bank for Enterprises on June 17 in order to get an enterprise number and apply for a VATnumber. So on that day, I should know what name to use.
I will first check whether it is allowed to use a company name as a freelancer, but I think so...

In Belgium, we don't have a separate legal status for freelancers, as Lukasz correctly assumed: we have to have a sole-proprietorship. But I will definitely check if this has any legal implications for me in Belgium.

I do share Henry Hinds' opinion that a commercial name would maybe give the impression that I am a company with people working for me, although I do want to work on my own, and do not want to give that impression....
But I still don't like Van den Broeck Vertalingen, especially because of the second and third reason...
I would however make sure (on Facebook at first, since it's free, and later on when I have more money to invest on my own website) to mention in my "about" section, as one of the first things, that I'm Nele Van den Broeck, and that I work on my own. (IF I choose a more commercial name instead of my own name, I mean, if not: no worries about that.)


Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
French to Dutch
+ ...
After some research Jun 6, 2015

Ok, I just did some more research (I hadn't even considered the fact before that it might not have been permitted to use another name than your own, for me it was "obvious" that this would be ok).

What I found out:
In Belgium there are two different things: the legal name, and the trade name.
For people with sole-proprietorship, your last name will be your legal name, without exceptions.
You can use your legal name as trade name, but can also choose a completely different trade name. The trade name should be mentioned on your invoices, publications, .... (not your legal name).
There is only one rule: you cannot use a trade name that is already used by another company, or that creates confusion because it looks similar to another company name.

If I would use my legal name as trade name, it would be Van den Broeck Vertalingen.
However, Van den Broek Vertalingen (only one character difference) already exists, so I am quite sure that would fall under the "create confusion"rule.
I think that the only thing I can do now, is to go for a different trade name, or do you see other options?


United Kingdom
Local time: 19:17
Serbian to English
+ ...
a company name Jun 7, 2015

is not your name - it's a name of a legal entity that you may be the one to have created and own but a company IS NOT YOU - it's a legal person distinct from you as a natural person - so you can use any name for a company that you create - within certain rules.

There is a lot of "creative naming" that is tolerated - to which extent it's a good idea for you to do so is up to you to decide (no one stops a one-man-band limited company from being called Worldwide AnyLanguage AnyText Translations Ltd, at least in UK).

If you want to trade as yourself (as opposed to doing so through a distinct legal entity, a company or some other form) it stands to reason that you have to use your own name, and/or possibly a "trading name".

Apart from marketing considerations, the fiscal treatment can also be a criteria. Operating through one or another legal form can bring sometimes surprisingly significant differences in taxation.

[Edited at 2015-06-07 12:59 GMT]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Don't call yourself Global... Jun 7, 2015

It looks as if a company name, possibly combined with a logo, is going to be the answer for you.

I use my personal name, although it is very common, because Andersen, spelt that way, does actually signal 'Danish' to a lot of people. It is in fact my married name - I would not use my maiden name, because people have trouble spelling it.
I have thought about a company name, and for a very brief period had a logo, but the company names never quite fitted, and the logo did not work well in thumbnail sizes.

It requires some thought...

I often think a good name or logo stands out and must be an advantage. It is a chance to tell people something about your services in a way your personal name may not.
If it is understood in all your languages, it would be brilliant, but remember you will have to live with it (we hope) for many years, so it should not be too quirky.

You might be able to 'borrow' another family name or use a place-name, as others have suggested. I had a colleague who used the name of his university, but that might or might not be a good idea.

Best of luck!


Nele Van den Broeck  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
French to Dutch
+ ...
Ok, apparently I meant trading name, not company name Jun 7, 2015

First of all:
I am going to have a sole-proprietorship, so I will be acting on my own and will probably keep on doing this (let's hope) for the rest of my life.
I know that I can choose to use my legal name, or a trading name, but in fact the first option is out since Van den Broek Vertalingen, and vdb vertalingen as well, already exist.

I do have a logo in mind:
it would be a drawed simplistic (but not childish, just not a real picture) globe, with my "name" written inside, and my source languages around it.

But the name is still a problem...

I was thinking about something in Latin, followed by the Dutch (my target language) Vertalingen, and that Latin word or word combination should reflect something like "inside the world" "through different regions" "between countries", "between languages", between cultures, journey across the world, ... Do you get the idea?


564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
Danish to English
+ ...
Make it easy for your clients Jun 8, 2015

You were asking what others have done, so this is what I did:
I opted for a company name that is nothing to do with my own name. This is perfectly normal and legal in Denmark, so this is how I am registered with the authorities.

I considered a couple of 'obvious' names that would include 'something to do with languages', and the most obvious ones were already taken, some of them by inactive companies, but that alone meant that I could not register my company under such names.

I eventually settled for the company name Textmaster, which was not used by any Danish translation-related business. However, I have regretted this choice, as, unfortunately, it can sound a bit like Sexmaster when said on the phone. Not exactly the association I wanted to create! I have also found that I have to spell the name out loud every time I mention it to someone on the phone, e.g. if I am giving out my email address or directing someone to my website. And, worst of all, there are other translation enterprises across Europe operating under the same name. In the long term, I know that I will have to change my company name, especially if I have to register my company in another EU country.

My advice to you would be this (no particular order). Choose a name...
1. that is unique
2. that is easy to remember
3. that is not too long
4. that is, ideally, a one-word name that will convert easily into a simple website address
5. that is easy to spell for people of your different languages
6. that does not make you sound like a corporation

As for your company logo, I would recommend that you opt for something that can be neatly converted into a fav icon when you get around to setting up a website, i.e. avoid anything heavily detailed and anything that has words in it or around it.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:17
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
A globe might be misleading Jun 8, 2015

Mention your languages at an early stage, so that people who want other languages need not bother you. It can save a lot of your time and theirs, believe me!
Gitte does it neatly in her logo.

It is a blind spot many of us seem to have, but clients do not automatically know what languages you can translate to and from unless you tell them. Likewise if you specialise in a specific subject area.

Something that sounds OK on the phone in all your languages is good advice too. I had a memorable e-mail address many years ago, but it got spammed, so I chose something more 'spam-resistant'. It has been a pain ever since...

I remember a call from one of the few big companies we had locally - I called myself Christine Andersen Translation.

'We want some translations done.'

I asked for some details - I suspected most of their material was far too technical for me.
It turned out to be marketing.
'We're in a hurry for the German, but the Italian's not so urgent. There are several others we want fairly soon. When can you start?'

Sorry, I'm a freelance translator, and I only translate into English, but I can recommend an agency...

'We wanted to use a local translator. You ARE a translator?'

Yes, a freelancer, and I only translate into English, I'm a one-person company...

'And you really only do English?!'

That was an extreme case - but it actually took me a while to convince him I was not able to take on his job!

I emphasise that I translate Danish to English on all my publicity, and don't pretend to be bigger than I am. Let the agencies use the globes!

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